CNN fires staff covering science and environment, hires psychic to cover climate change

Image:Network12.jpgOkay, I made up that last part — but the 1976 movie Network is inching closer to reality every day.

NBC buys the Weather Channel in July and one of the first things they do is fire the environmental unit, killing TV’s only global climate change show — during their “Green Week”!

Andy Revkin reports on the millionth nail in the coffin of the MSM, “Science Journalism Implosion, CNN and Beyond,” at DotEarth:

CNN is eliminating its seven-person unit covering science, the environment, and technology, saying its “Planet in Peril” programs do the trick. Curtis Brainard, who assesses environmental coverage for the Columbia Journalism Review online, in a comprehensive piece on the move, said: “[T]he decision to eliminate the positions seems particularly misguided at a time when world events would seem to warrant expanding science and environmental staff.

Of course, the situation at CNN is hardly isolated. Newspaper coverage of science outside of health and wellness is steadily eroding. Even here at The Times, where the Science Times section celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2003 and management has always supported strong science coverage, we (like everyone in print media) are doing ever more with less.

At CNN, among those leaving will be Peter Dykstra, a seasoned producer focused on science and the environment, and Miles O’Brien, a longtime CNN reporter and former morning news anchor, who I got to know when he turned to climate coverage in a big way several years ago. (See his spicy interview with Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who challenges dire climate projections.)

I talked to Dykstra many times. He was one of the very few TV journalists — a phrase that now has its own separate exhibit at the Oxymoron Hall of Fame — who really understood climate.

So when is the public finally going to say, “I’m as mad as Hell and High Water and I’m not gonna take this any more” [click here for YouTube of his famous speech — any resemblance between me and Howard Beale is mostly coincidental].

Totally OT Factoid: Peter Finch (pictured above) “died before the Academy Awards ceremony was held, and as of 2008


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is the only performer ever to receive his award posthumously.” Heath Ledger seems a lock to become the second for his stunning portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.

9 Responses to CNN fires staff covering science and environment, hires psychic to cover climate change

  1. llewelly says:

    Didn’t Glenn Beck qualify as a psychic? After all, he was always wrong, and believed in a lot of weird pig excrement. (I think he left NBC for Fox back in October.)

  2. llewelly says:

    Er, I think Glenn Beck left CNN for Fox back in October.

  3. Brodie says:

    Yeah, CNN->Fox

    I saw Ted Nuggent on is show once and they were mocking Climate Change by implying its falseness due to some heavy winter storm in Montana. Ergo, Climate Change are teh hoax.

  4. Will Sarni says:

    Part of the overall process of “dumbing down” of our society.

  5. Ronald says:

    CNN getting rid of its science dept. can be looked at as all bad, but maybe there is something that can be salvaged and even made better. Because CNN doesn’t have an on air science dept., they may need to go to other sources for their information. Possibly this might be the time to approach them on something with a University or other group which might be better than what CNN already had as far as global warming goes.
    I don’t have any specific suggestions, but I sure don’t remember anything in particular coming from CNN except its ‘planet in peril’ thing. Maybe it could be more direct links to some of the government science centers. Maybe something else could fill the void.

  6. Gosh, there are lots of car ads on TV.

  7. red says:

    I wonder if the CNN ratings folks realize viewers interested in science, technology, and environment news probably tend to be disproportionately intelligent and ambitious and therefore in a good position to buy stuff from advertisers.

    Speaking of TV car ads, I liked the comment below that I took from this post:

    “A Sad Day for CNN Viewers”:

    What I left at the Ford Motor Company feedback page:
    “I know you advertise on CNN. I know you spend money there according to ratings. I know CNN programs according to viewership. I think the CNN management’s decision to close its Science and Technology reporting desk, and let Miles O’Brien go is terribly foolish and shortsighted. With this kind of intelligence demonstrated, I will not be watching CNN any longer. I will not see your commercials there, and I will not find out about your offerings to replace my 16 year old vehicle next year. Good luck on your company’s recovery of market share from imports. I will not be a part of it.
    Signed, A consumer with lots of money to spend.”

  8. CNN’s claim that their “Planet in Peril” series will suffice,
    is a claim about (1) the intelligence, and (2) the interest/attention,
    of the American MSM “info-consumer”. Are we unfairly blaming
    the messenger (CNN) for an accurate, if dismal, diagnosis of the
    underlying cultural pathology?

    In America’s degenerate culture, the Entitlement Mentality says
    each person is entitled not merely to his own opinion,
    but also entitled to his own *facts*. Scientists — and others
    in the “Reality-based Community” — are a shrinking and
    ever-more-specialized minority.

    Although the market-based MSM bears great responsibility for
    “dumbing down” the public, and for causing its Incredible Shrinking
    Attention Span, that has been a decades-long process.
    Today’s questions are: What is the significance of these latest MSM
    abdications of science coverage?
    And what (if any) response is warranted (by whom)?

    For those Americans who already have intelligence and interest,
    the internet will suffice. But the new MSM science coverage vacuum
    reduces the MSM’s (perhaps by-now insignificant) function as a method
    of informal “Continuing Adult Education”.

    In reality, the most important science role of the MSM has been
    to *adjudicate* competing interpretations of scientific research.
    They were lousy at this job — portrayals of climate science
    were only one glaring example.

    What should fill this power vacuum for “framing” scientific research?

    Revive the Congressional OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT (OTA) !!!

    (see, e.g, )

    Congress needs *tools* for good governance. OTA is a tool to handle
    Cong. info-overload, techno misinformation, and techno-fantasies.
    And OTA would ensure that the public can see science “framed” exactly
    the same way Congress sees it.

    Obama will control one pole of scientific Authority via White House
    Office of Science and Tech. Policy. We need a multipolar power structure.
    Congress must have its own, independent Office of Tech. Assessment.
    The old OTA was bipartisan and unbiased, hence a powerful Authority.

    That’s why we must revive OTA — this Congressional “technology judge”
    will have credibility when it assesses, e.g, “Clean Coal” and CCS,
    and provides the conceptual framework via which the “jury”
    of Congressional decisionmakers should evaluate the evidence,
    and decide how to allocate our scarce time and money among
    various techno-alternatives.

  9. Marno says:

    Interest in global biodiversity and the global warming crisis is abundantly evident online and the CNN issue is moot in many respects as technology has passed these entities by in large measure. These global considerations are under analysis at and it related forum on environmental issues.